New York CityPASS Review 2023: Will It Save You Money?
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In this New York CityPASS review, we look at what the pass includes, consider the costs, and determine if this sightseeing pass is a good fit for your NYC travel plans.
With over 60 million visitors a year, New York City is the most popular tourist destination in the United States. It’s also one of the most expensive.
Home to incredible art, world-famous landmarks, and delicious food, New York deserves a spot on everybody’s bucket list. NYC has something for everybody, but it’s not exactly a cheap place to visit.
Of course, if you’re traveling to New York, you don’t want to spend your entire trip in a hotel room! You’ve got to get out and experience all the city has to offer! That is why it is super important to save in any way you can.
Sightseeing passes are a great way to see a city’s most important attractions for less. Many destinations throughout the U.S. and Europe offer these passes, giving you the chance to see each city’s top attractions at a steep discount.
That’s where the New York CityPASS comes in. This nifty little pass can help you see some of NYC’s most important sites, and it could save you a lot of money while doing it.
But, is the New York CityPASS a good fit for you? Let’s find out.
New York CityPASS Review: How It Works
The New York CityPASS is a popular tourist pass that helps you save money on sightseeing in New York. By bundling entry fees to some of New York’s most popular attractions, this pass can save you up to 40% off the cost of admission to the included attractions! And, when you’re traveling to NYC, every penny you can save counts.
Although some passes work on a consecutive day basis, the New York CityPASS includes a set number of attractions you can visit. In this case, you get to choose five out of the eight NYC attractions included with the pass. Two of these attractions are included on all passes, while the other six come in an “either/or” format. You have nine days to visit all six attractions, beginning with the day you first use the pass.
Upon purchasing the New York CityPASS, you’ll receive an email containing your tickets that can be redeemed for entry at each site. From there, you can have the tickets scanned from your mobile device (via the email or a mobile wallet) or print off a paper copy to use at each attraction.
Although most tickets can simply be scanned at the gate, be sure to read each ticket carefully. At some spots, you’ll need to scan your New York CityPASS ticket before receiving a reissued printed ticket at the attraction. Again, simply read the directions on each ticket prior to arrival.
Attractions on the New York CityPASS
The New York CityPASS includes entry to five of the top eight tourist attractions in New York City. Two of these attractions are included with every pass, and you’re allowed to select an additional three sites from a list of six options. Attractions on every pass include:
- Empire State Building ($69.68 value)
- American Museum of Natural History ($33.00 value)
Additionally, you can visit three of the following “either/or” attractions:
- Top of the Rock Observation Deck ($43.55 value) OR Guggenheim Museum ($25.00 value)
- Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island Ferry ($24.00 value) OR Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises ($37.00 value)
- 9/11 Memorial & Museum ($28.00 value) OR Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum ($33.00 value)
(Editor’s Note: Attractions and pricing current as of March 3, 2022. Some attractions may require reservations. Some attractions may have limited hours and/or limited capacity. Please check with each attraction prior to arrival.)
To be honest, I think all of these sites are worth visiting. As you can see, though, entry fees aren’t exactly cheap – especially if you’re traveling with more than one person.
So, does a New York CityPASS actually save you money? Let’s find out.
New York CityPASS Pricing
With the New York CityPASS, you can save up to 40% on the cost of entry to some of New York’s top attractions. Here’s a quick look at the current pricing:
|Passes||New York CityPASS Price||Regular Price of Attractions||Savings with Pass|
|Adult (Ages 18+)||$129.00||$216.23||$87.23 (40%)|
|Youth (Ages 6-17)||$109.00||$210.23||$100.28 (48%)|
|*Current as of March 03, 2021|
As you can see, this pass is a pretty darn good deal! The two sites which are included on all passes nearly account for the cost of the pass alone. Add one more attraction and you’re already saving money.
Let’s assume you visit both of the standard sites, then check out the Guggenheim Museum, the Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island Ferry, and the 9/11 Memorial & Museum. The regular value of these attractions totals $179.68, meaning you save $50.68 per adult with the pass. That’s about a 28% savings, and these are the least expensive sites available!
The pass also entitles you to skip the ticket lines at certain sites, saving you valuable sightseeing time.
Deciding on a youth pass becomes a bit trickier, however. Because entry fees for children vary by attraction, I suggest running the numbers before splurging on a youth pass.
Generally speaking, if your child is older than six, you’re probably going to save money with this pass. If not, the pass might not help you save. With that said, in the absence of a youth pass, you may need to stand in line at some of the busier spots to purchase a child ticket. That may or may not be important to you. Your best bet is to run the numbers first and decide if it’s worth it for you.
Save Up to 40% in New York! – Want to save money on sightseeing in New York? Get up to 40% OFF New York attractions when you use the New York CityPASS! Follow the link to learn more.
New York CityPASS Attractions Guide
With the New York CityPASS, you’ll receive “free” admission to five of the best attractions in New York. Of the five included attractions, two of them come standard on every pass. From there, you get to choose three more sites from a list of six. Here’s a description of each spot so you know what you’re getting!
Empire State Building
The Empire State Building has long been one of the most iconic symbols of New York City. With your New York CityPASS, you’ll get free access to the 86th floor observatory. There, you’ll enjoy a 360 degree view from over 1,000 feet above the city.
Inside this world-famous building, you’ll also get access to the second floor museum. To top it off, your pass entitles you to bonus “same night” access, giving you the chance to see New York’s sprawling landscape during the day and its beautiful lights that same night.
American Museum of Natural History
One of the world’s most famous natural history museums, the American Museum of Natural History is not to be missed. Here you can spend some time with the skeletons of dinosaurs, check out the 94-foot long model of a blue whale, and enjoy the world-famous habitat dioramas. You can also get discounted entry to special exhibitions with your New York CityPASS.
Top of the Rock Observation Deck
Head to the top of Rockefeller Center and soak up the panoramic views of New York City. You’ll have access to the top three floors of this iconic building where you can see the city from either inside or out. You can even choose whether you want to visit during the day or at night. Keep in mind that this is one of the “either/or” options on the New York CityPASS.
The Guggenheim Museum is another of NYC’s most famous buildings. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, the building itself is considered a masterpiece of modern architecture. Inside, you’ll find special exhibitions and collections that include works by artists like Picasso, Cezanne, Pollock, and more.
Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island
Located in New York Harbor, the Statue of Liberty has stood as a symbol of American freedom for generations. With the New York CityPASS, spend some time enjoying the audio tour of this historic island. (Please note that access to the pedestal and crown of the statue are not included.) Then, make your way to Ellis Island for another audio tour and learn about the struggles of over 12 million immigrants who passed through these halls on their way to America.
Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises
Choose either a regularly scheduled Landmark Cruise or a Liberty Cruise and enjoy New York City from the water. Soak up some spectacular views of the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty, One World Trade Center, and the rest of NYC’s iconic skyline. Tours include a professional guide.
9/11 Memorial & Museum
Few events in recent history have shaken the world like those of September 11th, 2001. Learn more about the history of the events, the personal struggles of loss, and the impact these attacks had on the world when you visit the 9/11 Memorial & Museum. You can also stop by the twin reflecting pools and pay your respects to the victims of the attack while reading the nearly 3,000 names inscribed on the memorial.
Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
This 40,000 square foot museum was once a working aircraft carrier during World War II. The ship now houses a unique collection of historical artifacts and 28 different aircraft representing all 5 branches of the military. Additionally, you can explore the space shuttle Enterprise and check out the Growler – the only guided missile submarine whose doors are open to the public.
Other Benefits of the New York CityPASS
- Fast Track Entry – Like with most sightseeing passes, the New York CityPASS offers “fast track entry” at several of the included attractions. Where available, simply bypass the ticket window and present your pass ticket at the gate. Please read your tickets carefully to find which sites apply.
- Value – By bundling some of New York’s best attractions together in one pass, the New York CityPASS can save you up to 40% off the cost of the included attractions. Even if you visit the two standard attractions and only one of the optional sites, you’ll still get more than your money’s worth from the pass.
- Convenience – Rather than purchasing tickets from each individual site, the New York CityPASS makes buying your sightseeing tickets easy. Simply purchase the pass and all of your tickets are included in one place.
- Valid for 9 Days – One of the best things about the New York CityPASS is that you have 9 days to use it. Rather than rushing through each site, you can take your time and enjoy them. Each pass is valid for 9 consecutive days, starting with the first day of use.
- Refunds Available – If you end up not being able to use your pass, unused passes may be exchanged for a full refund up to 365 days after the purchase date.
Visit New York’s Top Attractions and Save – Visit 5 of New York’s top attractions and save up to 40% off the cost of regular admission with the New York CityPASS. Learn more here.
Where the New York CityPASS Falls Short
It’s hard to find a lot wrong with the New York CityPASS. Quite simply, it’s a really great pass for people who want to see just a few sites while they are in New York.
To be honest, I guess that’s where the pass falls short. When compared to the over 90 options included on the New York Pass, the eight attractions on the New York CityPASS – of which you only can choose five – seems fairly limited. However, you’ll end up paying significantly more for the New York Pass, so it is really a matter of which pass suits your travel style the best.
Additionally, the New York CityPASS comes with separate tickets for each venue. Even though they are now delivered digitally, that can still be a bit of a pain.
Finally, while the pass includes an audio tour of the Statue of Liberty grounds, it does not include access to the pedestal or crown. With that said, I recommend not wasting your time going up to the crown. I did it, waited in line for 4 hours, and the view was much better from the pedestal. (The pedestal is worth a stop, but – again – it isn’t included with the pass.)
Other than that, the New York CityPASS is a really great deal. You’ll get to see some of the best attractions in NYC, and you’ll save a lot of money doing it.
Who Should Consider the New York CityPASS?
- First-time Visitors to New York City – If this is your first time visiting New York, the New York CityPASS is something you should consider. The pass includes entry to some of the most important attractions in New York, and it can save you a lot of money during your visit.
- Visitors Who ONLY Want to See the Included Sites – For those planning to hit just a few of the Big Apple’s major attractions, this is the pass for you. The New York CityPASS is no frills, no fluff. You’ll get entry to 5 of the biggest attractions in New York at a hefty discount, which may be all you need. The pass is also valid for 9 days after your first use, so you can take your time at each spot.
- Travelers with Short Stays – If you’ll only be in town for the weekend and have plans other than sightseeing, this is a great pass for you. You’ll save money and still get to hit some of the biggest highlights in New York.
- Families and Small Groups – The New York CityPASS is the perfect way for families and small groups to see some of the best attractions in New York on a budget. At a savings of up to 40% per adult, that adds up quickly when traveling in a group.
Who Should Skip the New York CityPASS?
- Heavy Sightseers – The New York CityPASS is great if you want to do just a little bit of sightseeing. However, if you want a lot more options, you may do better with this New York sightseeing pass instead.
- Those Who Won’t Visit at Least Three Attractions – If you don’t visit at least three of the attractions on the pass, you won’t get enough value to make it worth your while. Just buy your tickets at the gate instead.
Tips for Using the New York CityPASS
Thankfully, using the New York CityPASS is pretty much as straightforward as it sounds. Just present your tickets at each attraction, and you’re good to go. To squeeze the most value out of your pass, here are a few tips:
- Visit all five attractions – To get the most out of your pass, be sure to visit all five available attractions. The more you see, the better the return on your investment.
- Run the numbers on a youth pass – If you’re traveling with children five and younger, run the numbers before purchasing a youth pass. Free and reduced admission is available at most of these sites, but it varies by site and age. A youth pass may not save you money, but you may end up waiting in ticket lines without one.
- Visit the Empire State Building Twice – The New York CityPASS includes a special ticket for the Empire State building, allowing a bonus visit during the same evening. These tickets are more expensive than the regular admission ticket, so take advantage of this perk to get the most value.
- Start early – If you’ve only got a couple of days in New York, be sure to start your sightseeing early. That way, you can pack as much sightseeing into your day as possible.
Where to Buy a New York CityPASS
The best and easiest way to purchase your New York CityPASS is doing it online. Get yours here!
After purchasing the pass, your tickets will be emailed to you. Simply scan the tickets at each attraction to enter. If you prefer, you can print off a paper copy of your tickets instead.
New York CityPASS Review: Is It Worth It?
Is the New York CityPASS a good deal? For many travelers, the answer is a definite YES.
If you’re taking a vacation in New York, you’ll almost certainly do some sightseeing. The New York CityPASS bundles some of the city’s most popular tourist attractions while offering you the chance to save up to 40% off the cost of regular priced admission. That’s a huge amount of savings, so it’s definitely something you should consider.
In my opinion, the pass is best for travelers with plenty of time but only want to do a little sightseeing. It’s also a good fit for those who only have time to hit a few of New York’s highlights.
So, if you’re traveling to New York, you should definitely consider adding the New York CityPASS to your travel plans.
Have a great trip. Until next time, happy traveling!
Save Money in New York City – Traveling to NYC? Plan to do some sightseeing? With the New York CityPASS, you can visit 5 of New York’s best attractions and save up to 40% off the price of regular admission. Get yours here!
New York CityPASS Review
Pass Options & Lengths
Fast Track Entry
New York CityPASS Review Summary
The New York CityPASS bundles some of the most popular attractions in New York and helps you save big on the cost of regular priced admission. It also includes fast track entry and is valid for nine days.
In my opinion, the pass is best for those who have plenty of time but only want to do a little sightseeing. It’s also a good fit for those who only have time to hit a few of New York’s highlights.
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After reading this I am now checking to see if there are city passes in Cleveland and Boston (two places I spend most of my time). Seems like it fits my wants. See, I was careful not to say needs there. HAHA
I’m not aware of any Cleveland pass, but Boston definitely has one. Here’s a link: https://clubthrifty.com/go/citypass-boston
The best article ever. Wonderful analysis and very informative. Thank you